Breaking the shame and silence with determination and love

Bettie J. Williams-Watson

Editor’s Note: Bettie J. Williams-Watson is the Domestic Violence Program Coordinator at our Broadview Emergency Shelter & Transitional Housing program. In addition to her work at Solid Ground, Bettie was recently awarded a Purpose Prize Fellowship for her work in a nonprofit organization she founded, Multi-Communities. Bettie was named a Fellow for her groundbreaking work with Multi-Communities to address domestic, youth and sexual violence in predominantly African-American faith communities throughout the Greater Seattle area and beyond. The following are Bettie’s reflections on her recent trip to Philadelphia to receive her award.

I was much more anxiety-ridden about flying than about going to be honored for my work. I have a fear of flying. The fear starts early, beginning with butterflies in my stomach, and I begin to imagine that the plane will definitely crash while I’m on it. Upon takeoff, however, fears decrease and my coping mechanisms kick in. I start praying, immediately visualizing comforting supportive hands encircling and guiding the plane throughout the flight. Those same hands are able to gently land the plane.

Normally, I travel in a zone where I am categorized, compartmentalized, discounted or dismissed, because my choice of issues to tackle is on turf where there is a lot of overt and covert resistance and reluctance. Let’s face it! Opening the can of worms about domestic and sexual violence is not something you ordinarily see within these (predominantly African-American) church settings. Often, tackling the issues is what I consider to be “pedaling backwards in quicksand.” Within these settings, there are no hard and fast rules that work the same way every time – each church setting presents different challenges. Accepting as well as embracing these challenges is largely by my own, passionate design. Continue reading

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